Scary Ocean Animals From The Deep: The Goblin Shark
The goblin shark, or Mitsukurina owstoni, is among the most peculiar of sea animals.
Tragically overshadowed in pop culture by its more fearsome cousins, the goblin shark leads a relatively mysterious existence at more than 4,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. They are considered living fossils by researchers and are considered to be the only extant survivor of a 125 million-year-old family of sharks.
Goblin sharks were first identified in the 19th century and, as their name suggests, look more like a fairytale monster than a Great White. Its semblance to a goblin is most apparent when it is feeding, during which time the goblin shark's uniquely flat snout expands significantly in order to consume its prey.
This species has been found off various coasts in the Atlantic Ocean including in Guyana, France, Portugal, Senegal, and other places. But the majority of sightings have come off the coast of Japan.
Like most sharks, these scary sea animals are active predators that typically prey on fish, squid, and pelagic crustaceans. When hunting, the goblin shark senses its prey using its hyper-sensitive snout. It will then immediately jut out its jaws to capture its target in its razor-sharp teeth. Goblin sharks are not known for their speed, which makes their special ability to capture prey with a surprise jaw attack even more important.
Besides its unique anatomy, the goblin shark also has a fascinating method of reproduction. They mate via internal fertilization and give live birth to a small group of pups at once. During the gestation period, the pups receive nourishment not through the placenta but by eating the mother's other unfertilized eggs.
However, much of what is known about the goblin shark has come from the studies of dead specimens that are caught accidentally in fishing nets. Their rarity is considered a good thing, though. The goblin shark's isolated habitat deep underneath the surface of the ocean and their intimidating appearance has kept the species fairly protected from humans at a time when many species of shark are becoming endangered due to overfishing.